As if we need another reason to celebrate this time of year, but this one’s a big MUST. Nestled cosily in between Thanksgiving and Christmas is REPEAL DAY. Sure, it’s mainly for Americans to celebrate, but us British love the USA and we say celebrate with them. Don’t know what it is? Listen up. (Don’t worry you don’t need to splash out on a crazy outfit, just head to your nearest bar!)
So, Prohibition. We all know the drill (you watch Boardwalk Empire right?!!). For those that don’t know... it was a bit of a crazy time in America. With people thinking that alcohol was the cause of many social ills it was decided that alcohol would be banned.
Of course, while some championed this change in society, many (including Mr George Garvin Brown) hated this idea and wanted to do something about it. George Garvin Brown was steadfast in his beliefs and his passion for producing bourbon that he became the first president of the National Liquor Dealers’ Association in 1894 and even wrote and published a book against prohibition in 1910 named "The Holy Bible Repudiates Prohibition". Now THAT is what we call dedication! Garvin's first son Owsley took over the reins of the business and followed in his father’s footsteps. Sensing prohibition was on the horizon he successfully applied for, and was granted, permission to maintain production of Old Forester as a medicinal bourbon - making Old Forester the only American Whiskey brand to be produced before, during and after prohibition. What a storm to weather and come out triumphant!!
Turns out, this ban on sales, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages didn’t do the wonders they had hoped, and there was a rise in organised crime, fashionable speakeasies and the government were actually spending more money rather than less. There were 13 long dry years that passed until the ban was finally lifted, and everything could resume as normal.
So that my friend is repeal day, December 5th – THE day to enjoy a well-earned drink. Check out where to celebrate with an Old Forester whisky smash:
Berry & Rye, Liverpool – Don’t be put off by the huge doorman at the nondescript black door, he’s cuter than candy and only there to count the numbers. It’s got that Prohibition, bootlegger vibe but this place is totally legit. It’s low lit, deep boothed. Take a seat and order a drink, We say leave it in their hands and they’ll fix it right up. Booking is essential with this one, so make sure you call ahead to avoid disappointment.
Milk and Honey, London – This slick members bar is a great place to kick back with a whisky smash. Just like the speakeasies back in the day, it’s easy to miss this iconic cocktail hideout. Awesome service, quality drinks and a discerning crowd. If you want to guarantee a table on your night out and no queue at the bar then book a table here for an evening of decadence (unless you're already a member that is, in which case just turn up!).
Manahatta, Leeds – A taste of the USA in Leeds. Set over two floors, Manahatta offers a relaxed haven of great food, drink and atmosphere. As the name suggests, this hangout is influenced by all things New York. What better place could you choose to drink to Repeal Day? Do G.Garvin Brown proud and order in some Old Forester. We'll cheers to that!
Three Eight Four, London – This neighbourhood bar gets influences from all over. Always vibrant and buzzing with locals and drink enthusiasts, the cocktail list changes seasonally as do the small plates. If you want to celebrate in style, with a good crowd and not damage the bank. This is the place. Book a table and let’s drink to the end of prohibition!
Nightjar, London – Everyone likes to stick a “speakeasy” label on them to help them sound cool, but Nightjar really IS the real deal. Just like back during prohibition, this underground bar is seriously easy to miss, but once you’re in, you’re due exquisitely made cocktails, live music and some raucous fun. Perfect place to celebrate Repeal Day with a whisky smash! (They are launching their first late license with a jazz band playing - book early as tables are going quicker than Old Forester prescriptions in 1930.)